Being in a band is definitely a lot of fun, but persistence and hard work are key.
If you want to start your own band and you’re looking for some useful advice, find out what this student band has to say about it.
On Thursday I met Deon, Koray and Xander at Colyer-Fergusson. They are three of the four members of Deon and The Flames. You might have heard of them before! They’ve had numerous gigs on campus at the University of Kent and they’re also the winners of last year’s Keynestock (University of Kent’s annual music festival).
Their band is exclusively formed by university students, and they all met through mutual friends and housemates. “It seemed very natural and organic, it just happened, and here we are,” Deon explained.
Koray (bassist) and Alper (drummer) came up with the idea of the band, they met Deon (lead singer) and after changing a few guitarists they found Xander (guitarist).
But why did they start a band?
Everyone in the band is very passionate about music, and being in the band is the best way to carry on their love for creating new sounds. “Performing is very fun, it’s good for confidence too,” Xander told me.
“It sounds really cheesy and really cliché but I use it as a stress relieve,” Deon said. “I think there is no other feeling like when you’re on stage and you believe in what you’re doing and people are receiving you well.”
“It feels like whatever I was stressing over two hours earlier doesn’t matter anymore,” he continued. “Sometimes I’ve even taken the stresses of life on stage and said to myself: mate, this is where we get to exercise all the demons in front of everyone, right here.”
“For me this is an escape from university work. I enjoy music in general, I enjoy gigs and getting ready for them,” Koray said. “When you’re performing and you feel like the crowd is having fun, you feel accomplished.”
“It’s also something to work towards. If we have a gig, that is when we really put our hearts and souls in rehearsing,” Deon added. “You have a goal you’re working towards, it’s like you’re painting a picture and every time you rehearse is like a brushstroke towards the end of it; when you perform you get the final picture. It helps to keep in mind that if you put effort into what you do you can get good results.”
How does it all work?
There is a lot to do before each performance. When Deon and The Flames have a gig they try to practice as much as they can. They all have their own instruments, but they also find some of the equipment they need in the rehearsing rooms they book. In fact, with a Gulbenkian membership they are given the possibility of booking a room here at Colyer-Fergusson, where they do most of the rehearsing. However, “it never really ends”, they say. They keep practicing at home, juggling between university and music. It is no easy task.
When last year they were getting ready for Keynestock it was difficult to find time to both study for exams and rehearse, but they would let each other know if they were struggling and, in the end, were still able to find a good balance between the two. This year, their second year of university, everything is more complicated. Their degrees take priority, but they try their best to make it all work.
Some people go up to them and ask how they find places to practice, if they are part of a music society at the university, and ask for more advice on how to succeed as a band. Their best piece of advice is: “Just go for it!”
“You can be the best singer in the world but if you’re not always trying to break the glass ceiling to get to the other side it just won’t happen,” said Deon. At the very beginning nobody knew of Deon and the flames, which made it difficult to find opportunities to perform. Now, thanks to their persistence, people are starting to contact them, and “hard work is paying off”. The band has a Facebook page, and they have their own personal Instagram accounts: this is how most of the people get in contact with them and keep updated with the band’s shows.
“We had to create opportunities,” they explained. “You won’t always have someone that helps you. You must have a thick skin because it will be difficult to get information, to get in contact with other bands. We had to be persistent, and when there was no seat at the table we had to create our own bloody table.”
“Networking is very important too,” Deon specified. When people come up to me and tell me that they liked our music sometimes they ask to follow me on Instagram and stay in contact with us. That’s how you start having fans.”
For more than a year Deon and the Flames have been playing their covers on campus, and, after winning Keynestock, they also performed at the university’s Summer Ball in June. Their goal is now to work their way into town.
If you still haven’t been to one of their gigs, you should keep an eye out for them because they might be playing sometime soon, maybe around Christmas time!
To learn more about them don’t forget to go like their Facebook page: